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To Serve the People: Income, Region and Citizen Attitudes towards Governance in China (2003–2016)

  • Jesse Turiel (a1), Edward Cunningham (a2) and Anthony Saich (a3)


Through use of a unique, multi-year public opinion survey, this paper seeks to measure changes in self-reported governmental satisfaction among Chinese citizens between 2003 and 2016. Despite the persistence of vast socio-economic and regional inequalities, we find evidence that low-income citizens and residents living in China's less-developed inland provinces have actually reported comparatively greater increases in satisfaction since 2003. These results, which we term the “income effect” and “region effect” respectively, are more pronounced at the county and township levels of government, which are most responsible for public service provision. Our findings also show that the satisfaction gap between privileged and more marginalized populations in China is beginning to close, in large part owing to efforts by the Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping administrations to rebalance the gains of economic growth and shift resources towards the populations most overlooked during China's first few decades of reform.

通过分析一份多年公众意见调查的独特数据, 本文研究了中国公民 2003 年到 2016 年间自评满意度的改变。我们发现, 自 2003 年起, 虽然中国的社会经济不平等和地区不平等依然广泛存在, 但在较不发达的内地省份, 低收入公民和居民的满意度却有了相对大幅度的提升。这个我们称之为 “收入效应” 和 “地区效应” 的发现, 在直接提供公共服务责任的县级和乡镇级别表现更为显著。本研究同时显示, 中国优势群体和边缘群体之间的满意度差异正在开始缩减, 这很大程度上是胡锦涛和习近平领导的中国政府, 在中国改革最初几十年内, 努力平衡经济增长福利并将资源更大幅度地转向被忽略人口的结果。


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